By Thomas Neuburger
We've been hearing for a while that the Biden administration would stiff-arm the rest of the world by denying patent relief for the manufacture of Covid vaccines in the poorer nations of the world.
Here's the exchange with Dr. Fauci:
This Hero of the Resistance clearly wants drug companies to continue to prosper. Some resistance.
Lee Fang has noted the almost constant behind-the-scenes lobbying from this predatory industry:
And near the end of this discussion on Rising comes a hint of how much pressure was brought to bear, including from Bill Gates, on the administration to support Pharma greed:
In a normal world, profit trumps all other interests, and the battle between the Rich and the Rest ends just one way.
But not this time. Finally, we have an administration not enslaved to the pharmaceutical industry, at least for now:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Biden administration announced it would support a temporary waiver of intellectual property (IP) barriers to facilitate more production of COVID-19 vaccines and would enter into textual negotiations on a World Trade Organization (WTO) waiver proposal initiated by South Africa and India. The announcement comes after intensive U.S. and global campaigning. Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, issued the following statement:
“Thank you, President Biden and USTR Katherine Tai, for prioritizing saving human lives and livelihoods and cutting through Big Pharma’s lies and threats to fight for the speediest possible end to the unprecedented threats posed to all Americans and people worldwide by the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be critical that U.S. engagement in WTO negotiations leads to the fastest possible agreement on a waiver text that encompasses COVID-19 vaccines and diagnostic tests to prevent virus spread and treatments to save the lives of those engulfed in raging outbreaks around the world...."
This is as big a surprise as I've experienced lately, something completely unexpected yet so morally necessary as to not be worth debating. For all practical purposes, until almost everyone is vaccinated, no one is safe in a world that breeds variants in the bodies of the still-unvaccinated.
So this is good news indeed.
There is reason for caution, though. Note the highlighted sentence in the U.S. Trade Representative's announcement:
Is Biden going to slow-walk his help for the many to feed the greed the few? Would he be that cynical?
I certainly hope not, though quite a bit of lobbying wants him to do just that.